The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine (Holodomor)


By Bohdan Vitvitsky, Letter to the Editor of the LA Times, June 15, 2003
RE: TIm Ruttin's Op-Ed "The Blair Affair Fuels a 70-Year-Old Scandal, June 14, 2003


Tim Ruttin's "The Blair Affair Fuels a 70-Year-Old Scandal" (Regarding Media, June 14) is an excellent analysis of the scandalous exploits of the New York Times' Walter Duranty. It is the last quarter of his article that unfortunately misses the mark by a rather wide margin for reasons of relevance and historical accuracy.

What is the conceivable relevance of what happened during the Holodomor -- the murderous 1932-33 famine engineered by Stalin in which many millions of Ukrainians and others died in eastern Ukraine and elsewhere --to what ten years later may or may not have happened in western Ukraine during World War II and the Nazi Holocaust?

There is none. And that there is none becomes clearer from the following example. One of the two founding fathers of the criminal Soviet regime, Leon Trotsky, was Jewish. Lazar Kaganovich, one of Stalin's two closest associates during the bloodiest decade of Soviet rule, the 1930's, was Jewish. If you read the second volume of Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago, you will learn that many of those who ran the Soviet concentration camps were Jewish. Yet would it ever occur to anyone to demand from someone who writes or speaks about the victimization of the Jews during the Holocaust that such writer or speaker express censure or condemnation of the criminal activities of Jews in the Soviet Union?

No, and for good reason: what Trotsky or Kaganovich or the Jews who were involved in running the Soviet concentration camps did has no relevance to the victimization of the Jews during the Holocaust. Why then is Ruttin asking Ukrainian organizations who are speaking out about Duranty and the New York Times' scandalous 70 years of stonewalling to condemn what did or did not happen a decade after the Famine in a different part of Ukraine?

As to historical accuracy, Ruttin implicates the Ukrainian Waffen SS Division in genocidal activities. Over a decade ago, the Deschene Commission in Canada devoted several years and spent several million dollars researching just that question, and found that allegations against this Division were groundless. Ruttin also alleges that Ukrainians among the Soviet POWs whom the Germans captured "volunteered" to serve as guards in Nazi concentration camps. The notion that a Soviet POW, of whom there were about 5 million, half of whom perished in German custody, "volunteered" to do anything betrays a profound ignorance of what was happening in that part of the world during WW II.

Lastly, Ruttin writes that followers of the Ukrainian nationalist Stepan Bandera allegedly enthusiastically joined the Nazis in massacring Jews. Really? Then how do we explain why Bandera himself spent most of WW II in German prisons and concentration camps? Or why Bandera's two brothers died as inmates in Auschwitz?

Ruttin cites Rabbi Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Los Angeles as the authority for his historical claims. That's like asking a Palestinian cleric for background information on the historical Israeli--Palestinian interface. There actually do exist some scholars at universities such as Harvard, Toronto and Alberta that could provide you with accurate information about Ukraine during World War II, and I would commend them to Mr. Ruttin's attention for future purposes.

Bohdan Vitvitsky is an attorney with a Ph.D. in philosopny who has lectured and writen on historical, political and philosophical topics. He has written a considerable number of articles about Ukraine. He resides in New Jersey.

NOTE: To read the Los Angeles Times article that Mr. Vitvitsky is writing about click on